Scotland

Overseas visits to Scotland rise despite tourism dip

Gleneagles Image copyright PA
Image caption Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said that the Ryder Cup had encouraged more visitors to Scotland

Overseas visits to Scotland increased from July 2013 to June 2014 but the total number of tourists dropped, according to official figures.

The number of tourists visiting Scotland from abroad increased by 18%, while tourist numbers from North America rose by 32%.

However, domestic visitor numbers fell by 7%, contributing to an overall drop of 4%.

Spending by tourists from abroad increased from £1.5bn to £1.6bn.

The amount spent by UK visitors to Scotland remained level.

'Impressive' figures

Visitors from the US and Canada rose by 125,000, to a total of 510,000 in 2013/14, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing hailed the "impressive" North American figures.

He said the Year of Homecoming campaign and the promotion of Scotland as the "home of golf" ahead of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles had encouraged more visitors to enjoy Scotland and contributed to the overseas visitor boost.

He said: "The people at Scottish tourism's front-line, the staff in our hotels, cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions, are delivering results and providing a memorable experience for visitor from home and abroad."

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead cited the 80 new routes to Scottish airports as reasons for the boost.

He said: "2014 is the year that we predicted that Scotland would welcome the world and with a significant increase in overseas visitors, it seems we have done just that.

"As we head into the 2015 Year of Food and Drink and beyond, we will look to develop and build on all we have achieved."

Image caption Almost one in five music fans at this year's T in the Park festival travelled from outwith Scotland

Festival impact

Meanwhile, organisers of T in the Park credited a rise in tourists with the £15m impact of the festival on the Scottish economy.

Almost one in five music fans at the festival travelled from outwith Scotland to attend this year's event, compared with one in 10 in 2011, when the economic impact was gauged at £9.6m.

A survey by Glasgow-based economic and social research consultancy EKOS, also found that T in the Park was a close second behind Glastonbury as the most desirable UK music event to visit among potential festival-goers abroad.

DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis said: "Music tourism is a crucial economic driver for both Scotland and the UK as a whole.

"T in the Park continues to increase in value for the Scottish economy as a whole and provides a significant boost at a local level as well as remaining vitally important at a cultural and social level."

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